Annika Takes Over Top Spot in Tulsa

By Sports NetworkSeptember 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 John Q Hammons Hotel ClassicBROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- Defending champion Annika Sorenstam fired a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take the lead after two rounds of the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic. She stands at 7-under-par 135 at Cedar Ridge Country Club.
First-round leader Maria Hjorth, Sorenstam's Solheim Cup teammate from last week, shot a 1-over 72 and is tied for second place with Michelle Ellis, who posted a 2-under 69. The duo is knotted at 6-under-par 136.
Karine Icher of France was part of the lead until late back-to-back bogeys. All totaled on Saturday, Icher shot a 1-under 70 and is alone in fourth at minus-5.
Sorenstam, already a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour in 2005, wasted little time in breaking into red figures. She knocked a pitching wedge to 8 feet at the par-5 first and drained the birdie putt.
She parred her next four, but hit an 8-iron to 7 feet at the par-3 sixth to set up her second birdie. The Swede found trouble at the eighth when her 6-iron approach missed the green. Sorenstam chipped to 12 feet, but two-putted for a bogey.
Sorenstam atoned for the mistake at the next hole. She rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt, then made it two in a row with a 4-footer at the par-four 10th.
Sorenstam came up just short of the putting surface with her 4-wood second shot at the par-5 14th. Her chip rattled the pin, but did not fall. She had to settle for a tap-in birdie and first place at 7-under par.
The 63-time winner on the LPGA Tour got to 8 under with a 20-footer at the 15th. Unfortunately, Sorenstam could not stay at minus-8 and things went south when her drive at the 17th found the rough. She had to lay up, then hit another sand-wedge to 16 feet, where she two-putted for a bogey.
Still, Sorenstam owns a one-shot lead and has been lights out with the lead heading into the final round.
'I'm very happy with the way I played today,' said Sorenstam, who went 4-1 in defeat last week for the European Solheim Cup team. 'I thought I hit the ball beautifully. I'm very pleased.
'I don't really look at how many shots I'm ahead or behind tomorrow. I'm going to go out and I want to continue to hit the ball the way I have. Under par is obviously necessary. I have improved a shot every day, so why don't I improve one tomorrow and then I'll be pretty happy.'
Hjorth had an up-and-down round on Saturday with three birdies, three bogeys and three pars on his front nine. She caught fire with a pair of 15-foot birdie putts at 10 and 11, but made a serious mess of No. 12.
Her drive landed on tree roots and she took an unplayable. Hjorth's third hit a tree and fell in the rough, then her fourth landed in a bunker. Hjorth 's fifth landed 15 feet from the stick, where she two-putted for a disastrous triple-bogey seven.
Hjorth dropped another shot to par with a two-putt bogey from 10 feet at the 16th, but got within one with a 12-foot birdie putt at the closing hole.
'It was just a bad break, it happens,' said Hjorth, referring to the triple-bogey at 12. 'Other than that, I was really happy with my round. I made a lot of putts and I played solid again.'
Ellis opened on the back nine and made the turn at even-par. She ran home a six-foot birdie putt at one, then collected back-to-back birdies at five and six.
Ellis was tied with Sorenstam, but bogeyed the eighth when she missed from five feet.
Paula Creamer, who led the United States in points last week in her debut in the Solheim Cup, managed an even-par 71 and is tied for fifth with Laura Davies, who was crushed by Creamer in the singles, and Leta Lindley. The trio came in at minus-2.
The 36-hole cut came at 7-over-par 149 and 77 players made it to the last round.
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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.